Collins carries No. 3 Kansas past No. 25 Baylor
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP)—Baylor walked out on Kansas’ bone-rattling pregame party and nearly walked away with its first win at The Phog.
Sherron Collins wouldn’t let the Bears do it, not after that kind of slight.
Collins had 28 points and hit his fifth 3-pointer with just more than a minute left, helping No. 3 Kansas outlast No. 25 Baylor 81-75 Wednesday night.
“Sherron is a competitive dude,” Kansas coach Bill Self said. “He’s the best guard in the country, in our opinion. He does whatever it takes to give us the best chance to win every night.”
Kansas (17-1, 3-0 Big 12) figured to be in for a tight game against Baylor and its big, athletic front line. The Bears clearly weren’t intimidated by Allen Fieldhouse, either, leaving the court just before tip-off to avoid the Jayhawks’ crowd-juicing highlight video and player introductions.
“We took it as disrespect,” Collins said. “I think it fired us up even more.”
Collins got the Jayhawks started with a couple of nifty assists that led to dunks and closed it out with a 3-pointer from the wing and three free throws, combining with Marcus Morris to score 12 of Kansas’ final 14 points.
In between, the Jayhawks watched Baylor hit one difficult shot after another, lingering close to the lead and never backing down. Kansas eventually wore down the Bears after getting their front line in foul trouble, eking out their 53rd straight win at Allen Fieldhouse.
Morris finished with 22 points and Xavier Henry added 12 points and had seven of the Jayhawks’ 15 steals.
“That was a great game,” Self said. “Both teams played really well.”
Baylor (14-3, 2-2) shrugged off Kansas’ aggressive defense, hitting 10 3-pointers and 25 of 48 shots overall to become the first team in 92 games to shoot over 50 percent against the Jayhawks. LaceDarius Dunn hit five from long range—most of them well-guarded—on his way to 27 points. Tweety Carter added 17 points on equally difficult shots.
It still wasn’t enough to keep the Bears from losing their eighth straight conference road game. The Big 12’s best rebounding team allowed Kansas to grab 14 offensive rebounds—four by Morris—that led to 18 second-chance points. Baylor also had 20 turnovers.
“They were the better team tonight and they showed it,” said Carter, who had seven assists.
Baylor had never won in eight previous trips to Allen Fieldhouse, so coach Scott Drew tried the unique approach of taking his team off the court just before tip-off to avoid the jet-engine noise that fills the gym before every game.
Even if it irritated the Jayhawks, the ploy seemed to work.
Never rattled, the Bears answered nearly every Kansas run with one of their own.
The teams were separated by no more than five points for the first 28 minutes, then Kansas went on a 14-2 run to go up 60-50, appearing ready to pull away. Baylor still wouldn’t back down, using a 10-0 run—capped by Anthony Jones’ dunk over Cole Aldrich—to tie it at 65-all with just more than three minutes left.
Kansas went up four, but Dunn had an answer for that, too, weaving his way past three Jayhawks to drop in a short jumper.
Collins—who else?—put an end to the upset bid.
The senior, as he has throughout his career in Lawrence, came up with the biggest shot of the game, dropping in a 3-pointer with 1:13 left. Kansas then closed it out at the free throw line, shooting 7 of 8 in the final 54 seconds to win for the 15th time in 17 games against Baylor.
“I’m glad he’ll be gone after this year,” Drew said. “All his career he’s made big plays and tonight he hit that big 3. He’s so tough to guard.”
So was Dunn—and he almost pulled the Bears through.
Self started Brady Morningstar over Tyshawn Taylor so he could chase Baylor’s leading scorer. It was strength on strength, the Jayhawks’ best perimeter defender against one of the most fearless shooters in the nation.
Dunn didn’t care how close Morningstar was, uncorking his quick jumper chest-to-chest, on the run, even with Morningstar jabbing him in the face. He made three 3-pointers in the first 11 minutes, but Morningstar won his share of battles, stripping Dunn of the ball before he could go up three times in one span.
Dunn hit all four of his 3-pointers in the first half for 12 points and kept firing against Morningstar and later Taylor, going 5 of 8 from long range.
“I thought we played great defense on him and he still scored 27,” Self said. “They are the best shot-making team in the league, by far.”